Women’s cross country had a historic day on Nov. 21 at the NCAA Div. III Championships, hosted by University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. Williams won the race with an astounding 81 points, upsetting three-time winner Johns Hopkins, who were looking for another record-breaking NCAA Div. III win. SUNY Geneseo placed second with 179 points, and MIT placed third with 182 points. Johns Hopkins was fourth with 188 points. The brilliant effort by these women cannot be understated, as each individual had her own outstanding race to culminate in the first National Title for the women since 2004.
In addition to the win, an incredible three women won All-American honors: Hannah Cole ’17, Victoria Kingham ’18 and co-captain Lacey Serletti ’16.
Though the weather was cold and windy, preventing even the 30-odd spectators who road tripped from Williams to watch the race from donning bare chests and body paint, the course was flat and fast, allowing the women to excel.
The first runner to cross the finish line for Williams was Cole, following up her second-place win from New England Regionals last weekend with a tremendous fourth-place finish. Cole finished in 21:30.3, not long after race winner Sarah Masterson of Cornell, who finished in 21:23.1. The second-place overall finisher was Olivia Mancl of Willamette in 21:25.4, and third place was claimed by Maya Wiegel of Pomona-Pitzer in 21:27.0.
Cole ran a smart, strong race all around, sticking with the front pack in the end. Next to cross the finish line was Kingham, who continued her consistent season at the top of the pack and placed 11th in 21:35.1. She was followed by Serletti, who placed 22nd in 21:39.2 to end her Williams cross country career on a blazing note.
These women were key in securing the win, but the rest of the top seven were no less integral. Anna Harleen ’18 passed several runners in the final stretch with a kick to secure 39th place with a time of 21:49.3. Emily Sundquist ’18 finished in 21:57.6 for 51st place, and Rebecca Delacruz-Gunderson ’18 placed 67th with a time of 22:07.4.
The final scorer for Williams was Michelle Buncke ’17, who finished in 22:33.8 for 133rd place. Overall, in a field of 280 talented runners, the top Eph women had a spread of just over a minute, adding another accolade to the team’s collection from that afternoon.
Additionally, though co-captain Meg Richardson ’16, alternate for the race, didn’t run, it can’t be ignored that she had an incredible season as well.
Farwell has now won five NCAA Div. III titles at Williams: three with the women (2002, 2004 and 2015) and two with the men (1994 and 1995). With the men finishing second this year, it marked the best combined finish in Williams cross country history.
The team is thrilled with all that it accomplished this season. “The team was obviously incredibly excited and pretty surprised.,” Serletti said. “We certainly knew we had a chance to podium, but definitely weren’t guaranteed the win. We just focused on approaching the race as we had approached all of the others throughout the season. In the end, all seven women executed their race plans, staying calm and running smart when it counted most.”
The women conclude what can only be called a historically dominant season. Many of the women will take some time to rest, and then begin to train for the impending indoor track season. They will lose Serletti, Richardson, Samantha Avila ’16, Sophie Chatas ’16, Racquel Gibson ’16, Mary Ignatiadis ’16, Allison Rowe ’16, Anna Ryba ’16, Emily Shea ’16, Temair Shorty ’16, Laura Stamp ’16, Megan Steele ’16 and tri-captain Kathryn McNaughton ’16.